On showing some interest in KM

The Reserve Bank of Australia announced an increase in interest rates this afternoon. Interest rates will rise by another .25% and the expectation is that another increase is likely in the near term.

Since interest rates are supposed to reflect the cost of capital, it is not surprising that high interest rates impact on the bottom line of both businesses and individuals.

What I find particularly fascinating is the attention business gives to interest rate increases of .25% when many of the same businesses show a lack of interest in discovering and delivering .25% improvements to the bottom line by improving work practices and knowledge flow.

When I was in Brazil as part of a speaking tour for Rabobank Australia in 2003, I saw sugar companies seeking to make incremental improvements to production in the order of 0.1%, and when accumulated over the year, made substantial savings. I even saw a computer program that looked at the costs associated with parking a truck and unloading sugar cane in various positions at various times and in various combinations! There was a real effort in determining how to unearth savings associated with better ways of doing things. And importantly, the effort was made before it was clear what cost savings could actually be unearthed that way.

To a large extent, this commitment of effort (or lack of) to discovery and delivery is what confronts knowledge management. Where can a business make a .25% improvement to the bottom line, and how? Perhaps savings can be achieved in workplace processes by effectively harnessing people and technologies to improve timeliness, reduce costs associated with duplication and re-inventing the wheel, and putting people in touch with information and people at just the right time. There are plenty of knowledge management strategies to consider for a range of problems and contexts.

And since I am studying some marketing subjects this term, I already have a slogan: “Show some interest – let knowledge management do it right for you” (apologies to Tony Packard and his former car dealership)!

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